2009, Issue 3
A quarterly publication from the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
nationalCouncil
ma...
PDF available at www.TheNationalCouncil.org
nationalCouncil
M A G A Z I N E
2 Editorial: Challenges in ...
Editorial
Beyond the Open Door
Challenges in Housing for People with Mental Illness
Peter c. c...
Wrapping in appropriate supports for people with
serious mental illness living in communities
can be expensive but by no m...
Policy Perspectives
ann o’hara, Associate Director, Housing and ...
manent supportive housing.” The reasons to save the ple with serious mental illness and linked with the are ...
Policy Perspectives
year without increasing current Section 811 appro- to mixed-finance Section 811 proje...
Agitated, Disruptive,
Even Violent Clients?
Learn the skills to safely manage d...
Policy Perspectives
...
Driven to Help otHers
“I was curled up in a ball,” James LaFever recalls. “I
barely said three words to ...
Policy Perspectives
can We afford
to Fully Support a Return
to the Community?
...
10 years for mental health consumers, people with developmental disabilities, and the community. The public blogs t...
Best Practices
Innovative Financing Options
for Supported Ho...
COMMUNITY HEALTH
...
Best Practices
Spotlight on Sam Tsemberis: Why Housing First Works
sam tsemberis, Phd, Founder and Exe...
National Council: Where does funding come from for We’ll take them to the hospital if they are found to be hou...
National Council magazine 2009, Issue 3
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National Council magazine 2009, Issue 3

Housing is a basic right for all people, including those with mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Today there is growing recognition of the fact that persons with psychiatric disabilities need stable housing to support their recovery and integration into the community. Supported housing — which allows persons with psychiatric disabilities and substance use disorders to live independently and privately in subsidized apartments and link to support services such as home visits by case managers and supports for community integration — is becoming increasingly popular and has a growing evidence base of effectiveness.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Health & Medicine      
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Transcripts - National Council magazine 2009, Issue 3

  • 1. 2009, Issue 3 A quarterly publication from the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare nationalCouncil magazine sharIng Best PractIces In Mental health & addIctIons treatMent www.thenationalcouncil.org Housing for Persons With Mental and Addiction Disorders Beyond the open door Peter Campanelli Why housing First Works Interview with Sam Tsemberis a chance to live with dignity Linda Rosenberg From the Field Members Share housing changes lives Consumer Stories
  • 2. PDF available at www.TheNationalCouncil.org nationalCouncil M A G A Z I N E 2 Editorial: Challenges in Housing for People with Mental Illness Peter Campanelli 4 Save Section 811 with the New Community Integration Paradigm National Council Magazine, 2009, Issue 3 Ann O’Hara, Andrew Sperling 8 Ruling Gives the Mentally Ill Chance to Live with Dignity Beyond the Open Door Linda Rosenberg housing for People with Mental and 10 Can We Afford to Fully Support a Return to the Community? addiction disorders Debra Wentz 12 Innovative Financing Options for Supported Housing Housing is a basic right for all people, including those Jeffrey Brown, Marc Craig with mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Today 14 Spotlight on Sam Tsemberis: Why Housing First Works there is growing recognition of the fact that persons with Meena Dayak, Nathan Sprenger psychiatric disabilities need stable housing to support their 16 The Soloist: Moving Beyond Our Comfort Zone recovery and integration into the community. Supported Jacqueline Duda housing — which allows persons with psychiatric disabilities and substance use disorders to live independently and 18 Effective Risk Management in Supported Housing Michael Blady, Elizabeth Cleek privately in subsidized apartments and link to support services such as home visits by case managers and 20 Oxford Houses Reduce Substance Abuse and Increase Employment supports for community integration — is becoming Leonard Jason, Julia diGangi increasingly popular and has a growing evidence base 21 Housing for Homeless Veterans of effectiveness. Dennis Upper, Matthew Idzik 24 From the Field: Members Share National Council members across the nation who provide Housing Changes Lives critical housing services discuss their accomplishment and Consumer Stories barriers in this issue. Housing experts share best practices and provide policy perspectives. And most importantly, persons with mental illnesses and addictions that have p.24 From the Field received housing and support services share their stories of recovery through exclusive interviews for National Council Magazine (their stories are featured throughout this issue). We are grateful to all our contributors and appreciate your commitment to making a difference. National Council Magazine is published quarterly by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, 1701 K Street, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20006. www.TheNationalCouncil.org Editor-in-Chief: Meena Dayak Editorial Associate: Nathan Sprenger Editorial and advertising queries to Communications@thenationalcouncil.org or 202.684.7457, ext. 240.
  • 3. Editorial Beyond the Open Door Challenges in Housing for People with Mental Illness Peter c. campanelli, Psyd, President and CEO, Institute for Community Living and Board of Directors, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare Peter Campanelli is the founder, president & CEO of the Institute for Community Living, which provides residential, treatment and rehabilitation services to people with psychiatric, intellectual and developmental disabilities in New York City and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. ICL has engaged in creating community-based housing for people with serious mental illness for close to a quarter century. A graduate in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University in New Jersey, Dr. Campanelli is licensed to work both in New York and New Jersey—specializing in anxiety disorders, behavioral pain management, and marital and family therapy. He has received the 1995 Dean Donald L. Peterson Award of the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology of Rutgers University, the 1991 Significant Award of the Hospital and Community Psychiatry Rehabili- tation Model, and the 1993 Community Residential Treatment Service Award given by the American Psychiatric Association in recognition of outstanding clinical and administrative achievement. H ousing for people with mental illness is as much a place as it is an ongoing process to engage and promote their recovery. Helping consumers easily access and maintain stable housing must remain at the heart of any service system. The suitability of certain types of housing for people with mental illness is a discussion as relevant today as it was thirty years ago. Recently, a New York State judge made a landmark decision regarding the rights of people with mental illness residing in adult homes in New York City (Disability Advocates, Inc. vs. NYS Governor David A. Paterson et al, 2009). He ruled that the adult homes provide little opportunity for people with mental illness to integrate within the com- munity. The judge also noted that keeping them in adult homes is more expensive by several thousand dollars per person per year than providing these individuals with supported hous- ing and community services. The court ordered the state to create a plan to transition these residents from adult homes into supported housing or smaller group residences. This decision, though right now limited to New York City, could set a nationwide precedent, particularly in states that rely heavily on board and care homes, as well as nursing homes, to house people with mental illness. Given the potential changes ahead, it is vital we understand the questions and issues posed by supported housing. What follows is a brief discussion of four critical questions that every mental health and housing provider must consider in order to create stable housing and successful community inclusion for people with mental illness. What works best for different people? The Housing First model has had an undeniable positive impact on how we approach housing for people with mental illness. This model unconditionally offers consumers an apartment of their own and then crafts personalized supports for them that range from flexible case management to community-based mobile treatment in the form of Assertive Community Treatment. Since not everyone wants to live in his or her own apartment, a range of options that includes small congregate housing programs and other alternatives with flexible supports is necessary and appropriate. 2 / NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3
  • 4. Wrapping in appropriate supports for people with serious mental illness living in communities can be expensive but by no means more expensive than the alternatives—emergency room visits, hospitalizations, psychiatric emergencies, incarceration… However, there needs to be a means of aggregating all available funding into a single payer silo and allocating a fair share to supported housing. What clinical supports do clients need in communities and how best precursor to the implementation of an effective “medical home” intervention. can these be provided? Supported housing is less expensive than all costs associated with adult home A recent article in the New York Times (For Families of Mentally Ill, Mixed Feelings care. However, there needs to be a means of aggregating all available funding Over Push Away From Adult Homes, October 8, 2009) voiced concerns pertaining into a single payer silo and allocating a fair share to supported housing. Oth- to the court’s ruling on adult homes. Relatives of people living in adult homes fear erwise, it will be difficult to make supported housing universally available. One that their loved ones do not have the skills to survive in their own apartments and major barrier is that Medicaid defines eligible costs as those that are medically have previously failed in similar circumstances. necessary, thereby limiting Medicaid participation to an illness model. It would be Supported housing that provides small studio apartments within congregate build- more productive and cost-effective to permit Medicaid’s participation in preven- ings might address those concerns. This type of congregate model has been shown tion planning and implementation. Additionally, supported congregate housing, in to be very cost-effective and programmatically responsive for clients who otherwise contrast to the general housing market, requires a capital investment to finance might not be successful in a scatter-site apartment arrangement. These buildings the building of efficiency unit-housing facilities and a long-term commitment to generally consist of approximately 40 studio apartments and, while congregate, are support affordable rents despite market escalations. small enough to foster a sense of community inclusion and privacy and maintain What types of risk management approaches most effectively respond a very high retention rate. People who live in these small buildings typically have to legitimate community safety issues? access to a front desk attendant round the clock. It only takes one or two well-publicized allegations of crime to further ingrain the How can supported housing and its necessary supports best be stigma against people with mental illness. Widespread use of supported housing financed, especially in a recessionary economy? will force community-based agencies to train case management staff differently Wrapping in appropriate supports for people with serious mental illness living in and develop clinical support tools to assist in consumer risk assessment and communities can be expensive—but by no means more expensive than the alter- monitoring. Additionally, for parents with mental illness raising their children in native. Most state budgets are strained and the largest single cost escalator is supported housing, case managers with family development skills will be required Medicaid, especially for people with serious mental illness. Medicaid costs are bal- to ensure child safety within the context of supporting the whole family. looning for people with mental illness because of the heavy utilization of hospital Many of the lessons we at the Institute for Community Living have learned about emergency rooms and subsequent hospitalizations due to avoidable medical and community-based housing were gained through our work with the people we serve. psychiatric emergencies. One of the most important design elements is to enlist consumer participation in In an effort to stabilize medical care received by people with mental illness in the housing decisions. It is my hope that the topics and articles presented in this special community and reduce emergency costs, there is a national movement to create National Council Magazine issue on housing will raise more questions than provide “medical homes.” Medical homes provide continuous and consistent medical care answer, thereby fueling the national dialogue on how to help people with mental to people with mental illness. However, stable consumer housing is a necessary illness—an incredibly diverse population—best integrate within the community. NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3 / 3
  • 5. Policy Perspectives ann o’hara, Associate Director, Housing and Homelessness Team, Technical Assistance Collaborative; andrew sperling, Jd, Director of Federal Legislative Advocacy, National Alliance on Mental Illness S tate governments’ evolving community integra- tion policies—developed as a result of the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision and Men- ing and Urban Development’s HOME program and, most important, the new National Housing Trust Fund authorized by Congress in 2008. sectIon 811 has FaIled to KeeP uP To ensure expansion of supportive housing options that achieve the goals of community integration, tal Health System Transformation initiatives—have The principles, financing, and supportive services consumer choice, and recovery, agencies must prompted a reexamination of the government’s approaches for people with mental illness and other ensure that the programs and resources they have supportive housing and residential services policies disabilities have also evolved; they have developed conform to this model and maximize their capac- for people with serious mental illness, including the from models that required mandatory site-based ity to develop new affordable and accessible units. continued reliance on nursing homes and segre- services to evidence-based best practice models One critical federal program that has failed to keep gated board-and-care homes. In fact, some states’ that emphasize voluntary, individualized, and flex- pace with changes in disability policy is the HUD community integration policies no longer permit de- ible services that can be adjusted to a person’s Section 811 program. velopment of the kind of highly concentrated hous- changing needs in the permanent housing of his or Historically, Section 811 has been one of the few ing settings that are still the norm in many federal her choice. Many states are in the process of de- programs that focuses resources on the housing programs. signing and implementing these community-based needs of adults with severe disabilities, including Through these new policies, a housing and services supportive services policies through a realignment serious mental illness. Despite setbacks in recent paradigm has emerged that seeks to fulfill the vi- of Medicaid and state financing strategies. years, the program is still able to create new sup- sion of community integration embedded in the Two states, North Carolina and Louisiana, have al- portive housing units, although budget cuts and Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. This para- ready adopted housing policies that demonstrate operating subsidy renewal costs have significantly digm envisions that people with disabilities who the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of integrating eroded its capacity to develop new units (only 930 have an extremely low income will have access to permanent supportive housing set-asides for people new units were funded nationally in 2008). In reality, an increasing supply of decent, safe, affordable, ac- with disabilities within LIHTC-financed affordable the future of Section 811 is being jeopardized by an cessible, and integrated rental housing. Moreover, housing developments. The North Carolina Hous- outdated statute and program models, excessive HUD this housing will be produced routinely and at scale ing Finance Agency has financed more than 2,000 bureaucracy, and rapidly declining production levels. through mainstream affordable rental housing pro- units, and Louisiana has approximately 1,000 units Why save sectIon 811? grams, particularly the federal Low-Income Housing in the pipeline financed with recovery funds from Many in the disability field have asked, “Why save Tax Credit program, the U.S. Department of Hous- Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Section 811? Other HUD programs can create per- 4 / NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3
  • 6. manent supportive housing.” The reasons to save the ple with serious mental illness and linked with the are essential for the program’s long-term viability. Section 811 program are clear and compelling. Most community-based supportive services they want and The basic structure of the Section 811 program is quite important, Section 811 is the only federal program need. The vision for this new Section 811 approach simple. Under current federal law, Section 811 is a dedicated to addressing the housing crisis facing includes small set-asides of permanent supportive competitive program with three distinct components: millions of extremely low-income people with sig- housing units integrated within larger rental housing nificant and long-term disabilities who also need developments funded routinely each year by state and 1. A Section 811 Capital Advance (essentially a grant with a 40-year use restriction) to help nonprofit access to services and supports to live successfully local governments. For example, a new 100-unit LIHTC organizations buy, rehabilitate, or newly construct in the community. In addition, Section 811 is one of property could include 10 permanent supportive supportive housing. the few remaining HUD programs that can provide housing units funded by Section 811. Alternatively, a the essential project-based rent subsidy needed nonprofit organization could create a “mixed-income” 2. A 5-year renewable Section 811 Project Rental As- to ensure that rents in new permanent supportive rental property that incorporates into a 60-unit build- sistance Contract linked to Capital Advance proj- housing units are affordable for the most vulner- ing 15 permanent supportive housing units financed ects that helps cover project operating costs (in- able people with disabilities and with the lowest with Section 811 funds. surance, utilities, maintenance, etc.) and ensures incomes. that tenants pay no more than 30 percent of their How can these reforms be achieved? Congress is income for housing. Merely tinkering with the Section 811 statute will not moving forward on legislation to reform HUD Sec- be enough to save it. To effectively respond to the tion 811 and ensure its long-term viability as a 3. A separate Section 811 tenant-based rental as- housing choices and service approaches preferred critical source of integrated housing for people with sistance program administered primarily by public by most people with disabilities—and to produce severe disabilities. housing agencies such as the Section 8 Main- new permanent supportive housing units at the scale stream Housing Opportunities for Persons With neW sectIon 811 legIslatIon needed—Congress must reform and revitalize the Sec- Disabilities program. The Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act tion 811 program. This new approach to Section 811 Section 811 projects financed through the Capital of 2008 (HR 1675 and S 1481) will spur the creation of must bring the program into alignment with the other Advance/PRAC components are single-purpose prop- thousands more new Section 811 units every year by major government programs that fund affordable rent- erties that fall into two basic categories: (a) Small al housing in the United States today—particularly the >> Authorizing a new Section 811 Demonstration Pro- group homes with no more than 8 units, and (b) In- new National Housing Trust Fund program as well as gram that fulfills the promise of true community dependent living facilities, which can have up to 24 the federal LIHTC program and HUD’s HOME program. integration as envisioned in the Americans With units. An extremely small number of the estimated Disabilities Act. Section 811 needs to coordinate effectively with 30,000 funded Section 811 units are condominiums these programs to develop new, high-quality rental >> Enacting long-overdue reforms and improvements or cooperative units that are integrated within other units that are targeted for the lowest income peo- to the existing Section 811 production program that housing settings. This approach has proven extremely difficult to implement under current Section 811 Congress must reform and revitalize the Section 811 program rules, however. to bring it into alignment with the other major government programs Key Features that fund affordable rental housing in the United States The primary goals of the new Section 811 legislation are to create more units of permanent supportive today—and to develop new, high-quality rental units that housing every year, to produce these units more ef- are targeted for the lowest income people with serious ficiently by leveraging other affordable rental housing mental illness and linked with the community-based financing, and to promote more integrated Section 811 housing opportunities. supportive services they want and need. The key provisions of HR 1675 and S 1481 are sum- marized in the sections below. Section 811 Demonstration Program The most innovative and exciting component of the legislation is a proposed PRAC–ONLY Demonstration program. The PRAC-ONLY Demonstration could create 2,500 to 3,000 new integrated Section 811 units each NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3 / 5
  • 7. Policy Perspectives year without increasing current Section 811 appro- to mixed-finance Section 811 projects that target your voIce can MaKe a dIFFerence priations. The demonstration has been designed LIHTC investment. These long-overdue reforms in- Time is running out on the Section 811 program, to take advantage of the hundreds of thousands clude the use of Section 811 Capital Advance and and the need to create new permanent supportive of “affordable” units routinely produced each year PRAC funding to support a percentage of the units— housing units has never been greater. Disability by states and localities through the new National not to exceed 25 percent of the total units in the housing policy is at a critical juncture as the com- Housing Trust Fund program, as well as through project—in a multifamily rental housing develop- munity integration paradigm takes hold—unfortu- the LIHTC and HOME programs and perhaps other ment project. The legislation would also streamline nately, without the housing resources to ensure its sources of affordable housing financing. HUD Section 811 processing requirements and success. Section 811 legislation that supports this The PRAC–ONLY Demonstration would provide a remove outdated HUD regulatory barriers to help new paradigm is essential, because it will provide long-term commitment of Section 811 PRAC fund- increase the number of new units that can be cre- important new resources to ensure its implementa- ing to ensure that a small but significant percent- ated each year by nonprofit organizations through tion in states and localities around the country. age of permanent supportive housing units—not to the Section 811 Capital Advance/PRAC program. Even a reinvigorated and modernized Section 811 exceed 25 percent of the total units—could be set Shifting Renewal of Section 811−funded program cannot be expected to address the full aside in projects financed by the National Housing Mainstream Vouchers to the Housing Choice extent of the unmet need for permanent support- Trust Fund, HOME, or LIHTC. The demonstration pro- Voucher Program Budget ive housing for people with the most significant gram would be administered through state housing Since its inception, the Section 811 tenant-based and long-term disabilities. Nonetheless, a newly agencies and local governments willing to create rental assistance program has been plagued with authorized Section 811 program that truly sup- set-aside policies that align with the community problems. The provisions of HR 1675 and S 1481 ports community integration for people with dis- integration goals of state disability and supportive related to this component of Section 811 are es- abilities will symbolize a renewed, serious, and services policies. sential for two reasons: sustainable commitment from the federal govern- Under the PRAC–ONLY demonstration, rents for 1. HR 1675 and S 1481 finally will undo the ill- ment to respond to this housing crisis. Section 811 units would be set at 30 percent of advised and ill-fated HUD decision made in the By enacting new Section 811 legislation, Congress monthly income, and the Section 811 PRAC would 1990s to convert Section 811 tenant-based can ensure that a reinvigorated Section 811 pro- provide the long-term rental subsidy up to the “af- rental assistance funding to Section 8 Main- gram is ready to create thousands of new perma- fordable” rent charged in the LIHTC, HOME, or simi- stream Housing Choice Vouchers administered nent supportive housing units every year without the lar affordable rental housing financing program. This primarily by public housing agencies. need for Congress to double or triple appropriation cost-effective approach means that the annual cost 2. HR 1675 and S 1481 could free up more than levels. The removal of many bureaucratic barriers of a Section 811 unit could be as low as $3,000 $80 million in Section 811 funding, which could that cause protracted delays in Section 811 project per year and would require no Section 811 capital be redirected to the PRAC–ONLY Demonstration development will also produce new units more ef- funding to implement. program. ficiently. Shifting renewal costs associated with the Section 811 PRAC funding could be linked when flawed 811-funded Mainstream Housing Choice Many problems arose when HUD created the Main- projects are financed or could be provided at any Voucher program—which has drained funding away stream Voucher Program. Stated simply, although time as long as the project owner is willing to ac- from essential permanent supportive housing pro- they were funded and renewed from Section 811 cept the long-term commitment of PRAC funding. duction since 1997—also is long overdue. appropriations, more than 14,000 Mainstream Linkages to supportive service resources would be Housing Choice Vouchers were awarded to public Ann O’Hara is nationally known for her public policy work to structured through formal partnerships with state housing agencies, which issued them to people with expand affordable housing opportunities for people with dis- health and human services agencies and Medicaid abilities and her expertise in housing programs for people who disabilities who were on Section 8 Housing Choice are homeless or at risk of homelessness. She has over 25 years agencies implementing policies focused on commu- Voucher waiting lists. The Section 811−funded experience in the development and administration of the full nity integration. vouchers were rarely—if ever—used by public hous- range of subsidized rental and homeownership programs. She has successfully advocated for national housing policy initia- Improvements to the Existing ing agencies to provide permanent supportive tives and helped numerous federal and state agencies address Section 811 Program housing, and they were not necessarily targeted to housing problems of low-income people with special needs. people with the most serious and long-term disabili- Andrew Sperling leads NAMI’s legislative advocacy initiatives in HR 1675 and S 1481 also propose changes to the Congress and before federal agencies. He works on issues af- existing Section 811 production program to encour- ties. Ineffective tracking of the Mainstream program fecting the mental health community with a focus on improving age nonprofit Section 811 grantees to better lever- by HUD and public housing agencies compounded the lives of people with severe mental illnesses. Since 1994, Mr. Sperling has also served as Co-Chair of the Consortium for age other capital funding and to eliminate barriers the problems. Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force. 6 / NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3
  • 8. Agitated, Disruptive, Even Violent Clients? Learn the skills to safely manage difficult client behavior. Join the tens of thousands of health care professionals who count on the Crisis Prevention Institute’s proven, practical methods to help defuse disruptive behavior before it escalates to a crisis situation. Visit www.crisisprevention.com/council for more information and to receive valuable FREE RESOURCES you can put to use immediately (a $12 value). 3315-H North 124th Street • Brookfield, WI 53005 USA 1-800-558-8976 • 1-888-758-6048 TTY (Deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired) 1-262-783-5787 • Fax: 1-262-783-5906 Email: info@crisisprevention.com • www.crisisprevention.com Priority Code: BH901 Crisis Prevention Institute® is a registered trademark of the Crisis Prevention Institute, Inc.
  • 9. Policy Perspectives Reprint from NY Daily News, October 6, 2009 Ruling Gives the Mentally Ill Chance to Live with Dignity linda rosenberg, MsW, President & CEO National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare I t’s being able actually to live like a human being again. That is what Irene Kaplan said about her new life In the adult homes, residents cannot make in a supported apartment after 16 years of living in one of New York City’s largest state-funded adult the most basic of decisions, such as what homes for people with mental illnesses. to eat or what time to eat. Now, as a result of Judge Nicholas Garaufis’ ruling last month that the state denied basic rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act to the mentally ill, most of the 4,300 men and women who still live in those institutions can have the sameopportunity for freedom. The fears expressed by local civic leaders in a Daily Having a guest for dinner or overnight is out of the ing others gain a degree of self-sufficiency once only News article last Sunday (“Ruling may force men- question. dreamed about. tally ill to move from Rockaways facility”) are based on an insufficient understanding of both the nature In adult homes, the needs of the institution always But adult homes do not do us proud. of supported housing and the characteristics of the trump the needs of the individual. Once upon a time they were a bad solution to a people who will occupy it. There are more than 13,000 persons with mental state hospital problem. As one of the experts, I testified before Garaufis in illness who successfully live in supported housing Now adult homes are an expensive tragedy visited this case. My 30-years plus with the New York State in New York State. upon those some people still view as less worthy. Office of Mental Health — beginning as an assistant They are living in an apartment — alone or with a We can and must do better. social worker, then running clinic and hospital pro- roommate of their choosing — to which supportive grams that treated both adult home and supported services are added. With more than 30 years of distinguished service in mental housing residents and ultimately serving as the health policy, services, and system reform, Rosenberg is a senior deputy commissioner — allows me to inject They are your neighbors, but you probably do not leading mental health expert. Under Rosenberg’s leadership some clarity and experience into the discussion. know it. since 2004, the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare has grown to 1,600 member organizations, employ- A couple of decades ago, when psychiatric hospitals The assistance they get runs the gamut, from help ing 250,000 staff and serving 6 million adults and children in were being downsized, the state needed alternatives with finding a job to help with laundry and food communities across the country. Prior to joining the National shopping to bringing treatment, counseling and Council, Rosenberg was the senior deputy commissioner for for the people who were being discharged “into the the New York State Office of Mental Health. In addition to community.” medication into the apartment. responsibility for New York’s state-run adult, child, and forensic hospitals, she tripled New York’s assertive community treatment Because New York had not developed adequate Supported housing allows people who are diag- capacity, expanded children’s community-based services, services for the people being deinstitutionalized, nosed with serious mental illnesses, people no developed an extensive array of housing options for people with for-profit adult homes became an alternative to the different from those warehoused in adult homes to mental illnesses and addictions, implemented a network of jail achieve independent lives in the community. diversion programs including New York’s first mental health streets. court, and promoted the adoption of evidence-based practices The adult homes, many with hundreds of beds, are It is only happenstance that determines who lives in and consumer and family programs. A certified social worker, supported housing and who lives in an adult home. as well as a trained family therapist and psychiatric rehabilita- fully institutional — places in which the residents tion practitioner, Rosenberg has held faculty appointments at a can not make the most basic of decisions, such as The Office of Mental Health created an array of number of schools of social work, serves on numerous agency and editorial boards, and writes and presents extensively on choosing a roommate or what to eat or what time outstanding programs and services for people with mental health and addictions issues including the impact of to eat. mental illnesses, helping many to recover and help- organizational and financing strategies on consumer outcomes. 8 / NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3
  • 10. Driven to Help otHers “I was curled up in a ball,” James LaFever recalls. “I barely said three words to Chris [Christine McLeod, James’s probation officer].” The 27-year-old had robbed the local Dairy Queen and been placed in Community Engagement, Supervision and Evaluation, an intensive jail-diversion program started by Community Reach Center in Adams County, Colorado. Weeks before the robbery, James had desperately called friends, crisis hotlines, anyone… to try to get help. After his arrest, the public defender recommended a psychiatric evaluation, and things finally clicked: James was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder. For more than a decade, he had been self-medicating with drugs to try to feel “normal” and crashing on the couches of family and friends. He didn’t know that programs like CESE existed. Now, this bright young man wants everyone to know. “I would like more people to be aware of the services available,” James says. “If I had been aware, my last arrest might not have happened.” “Through the CESE program, James has learned to be aware of his mental health and not to continue his criminal behaviors,” says Abigail Tucker, program manager of the Adult Forensics Program in Adams County. Finding a suitable, sober living environment is critical, and it’s not easy. “People like James are our motivation,” she adds. Since graduating from CESE, James has been working, and he helps lead a weekly support group for other CESE graduates. He has his own apartment and is deeply motivated to help others. “I would rather they have someone to talk to, rather than feel alone and go out and use, or break the law because they don’t have any support,” says James. His voice is strong and determined⎯and genuine. His life is far from perfect, but having his own place has brought increased stability and allowed him to focus on improving his life. James savors the confidence and self-esteem that paying one’s own way can bring, adding, “I’m not worried if I’m going to eat, or if I have to ask someone if I can eat. Before, I always felt like a burden. Now I’m pulling my own weight.” A true story based on exclusive interviews for National Council Magazine. Pictures are stock images only and do not represent subjects in the story.
  • 11. Policy Perspectives can We afford to Fully Support a Return to the Community? Supportive Housing to be Cornerstone of New Jersey Settlement for Confined Advocates who have fought against New Jersey’s practice debra l. Wentz, Phd, Chief Executive Officer, New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies of keeping hundreds of individuals with mental illness on conditional commitment status in state psychiatric hospitals are heartened that the settlement of a lawsuit F or hundreds of people in New Jersey’s state psychiatric institutions, the wait to return to the community has been far too long. But now, with the settle- ment recently announced between the New Jersey Department of Human Ser- challenging this action features development of supportive housing as the key to establishing community alterna- vices and Disability Rights New Jersey, the time has come for them to return to independent living in the community. tives. The settlement finalized last month in the case now The ruling resolves a long-standing case that challenged the constitutionality of known as Disability Rights New Jersey v. Velez calls for New Jersey’s practice of keeping people hospitalized on “Conditional Extension a phased discharge of 297 patients who were hospital- Pending Placement” status for long periods. Although these consumers were ized under the state’s “Conditional Extension Pending deemed ready for release from state institutions, the state denied their release because of a lack of appropriate community services and living options. Placement” (CEPP) prior to July 1, 2008. The state has At times, more than one-third of the residents in New Jersey’s institutions were used CEPP commitment to maintain hospitalization for on CEPP status. The lawsuit, originally filed by New Jersey Protection and Advo- individuals with mental illness who are ready for discharge cacy, maintained that the practice violated the Americans With Disabilities Act to the community but for whom there are no appropriate and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead ruling, which mandates that services be provided in the least restrictive setting possible. community services available. The complaint filed by the Although the members of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, state’s protection and advocacy agency for mental health opposed the practice of keeping people hospitalized long after they were ready consumers and by Bazelon alleged that the confinement for release, we felt just as strongly that it would be cruel to return them to the of these individuals violated the Americans with Disabili- community without appropriate plans in place for their continued treatment and services. In the past, New Jersey has witnessed the devastation and homeless- ties Act and also flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme ness that occurred when institutions were closed without appropriate services Court’s Olmstead decision mandating services in least- arranged for displaced patients. restrictive settings. Over the past several years, New Jersey has committed to increase the number of residences for people with mental illness and has been reducing the census As reported in Mental Health Weekly at state hospitals. In 2005, the state created the Special Needs Housing Trust August 10, 2009 Fund, setting aside $200 million with a goal of creating 10,000 residences over 10 / NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3
  • 12. 10 years for mental health consumers, people with developmental disabilities, and the community. The public blogs that followed the lawsuit settlement stories were a youths aging out of foster care. sad commentary on the antiquated attitudes of some members of the public. NJAMHA members have partnered with the state to create unique living options, We must continue to tell the stories of successful recovery and reintegration of such as a program run by Community Hope and Comprehensive Behavioral Health- people with mental illness who work, care for their family, and contribute to society. care, Inc., on the grounds of Greystone Psychiatric Institution. This program provides Last year, NJAMHA featured the story of Cyndy Walters, who lost her children and long-term patients—some who were institutionalized for more than 20 years—the her home and nearly lost her life when she tried to commit suicide. She speaks opportunity to gradually transition to independent community living. to others about her time in crisis, saying, “I actually think I would’ve been dead The recently announced settlement calls for a phased discharge of another 297 if I didn’t have the services because . . . I tried to commit suicide and somebody patients on CEPP status. The state budget includes $5 million for fiscal year 2010 intervened and took me into their arms and wouldn’t let me go.” to develop new supportive housing for the first year of the plan. The 125 com- Cyndy publicly discusses her recovery and tells the story of how she has regained munity providers that are members of NJAMHA are committed to partnering with her life, home, and children. She is now successfully employed and helps others the state to ensure the successful transition of these patients to community life. who face similar crises. Thousands of Cyndys in New Jersey live, work, and contrib- We are concerned, however, that the fiscal realities of state government grappling ute to their community. We must ensure that the state and all residents commit to with a deficit-riddled budget will leave these former patients without the services supporting these people’s successful recovery and life in the community. they need in the future. Institutionalization is expensive, whereas community treatment and services are a Debra L. Wentz, PhD is chief executive officer of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agen- cies, Inc., which represents 125 nonprofit hospital-based and freestanding behavioral healthcare wise investment that can save the state resources in the long run. The state cannot providers that collectively treat more than 400,000 children and adults in need of mental health view deinstitutionalization as a means of filling budget holes, however, and it must services and supports annually. Dr. Wentz is also the executive director of the New Jersey Mental not simply look to the least expensive option. Each patient must be fairly assessed Health Institute, a private, nonprofit charitable organization that promotes quality mental health ser- vices through policy development initiatives, training, technical assistance, research, data collection, and provided with the appropriate treatment and services. best practice development and anti-stigma and anti-discrimination campaigns. A recipient of more Although supportive housing is a valuable component of the community mental than 60 national, state and local awards, Dr. Wentz serves on numerous statewide councils and task forces addressing issues impacting the mental health community. health continuum, people sometimes require more intensive treatment and ser- vices. A well-funded full continuum of care is particularly necessary for patients who have comorbid medical conditions or have been institutionalized for so long that daily living presents enormous challenges. Additionally, the commitment to reducing the census at state institutions must not be achieved at the expense of people living in the community. In addition to the hundreds of consumers who are on CEPP status at state institutions and awaiting release, thousands in the community are awaiting housing and services. Accord- ing to the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, in 2006 more than 17,000 people were in shelters and other homeless housing locations in the state, many with special needs. Untold thousands also live in substandard circumstances or with aging parents and await the opportunity for independent living. Moreover, the state’s jails and prisons remain the primary location to house people with mental illness. If the state does not concurrently address the needs of everyone with mental ill- ness, the demand at the front door of institutions will continue. In New Jersey, the wait for outpatient services can stretch to months, and emergency rooms back up with people in crisis. The state has been instituting various pilot programs to address these needs, such as intensive outpatient treatment and jail diversion. Although New Jersey’s com- mitment to these new programs is admirable, the state continues to let the core of the system founder. New Jersey must make a commitment to meeting the ongoing needs not just of people released from institutions but also of people with mental illness who are still in the community. Additionally, we must all commit to battling the stigma and discrimination that continue to plague people with mental illness and hamper their reintegration into NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3 / 11
  • 13. Best Practices Innovative Financing Options for Supported Housing Jeffrey Brown, Executive Director, Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority; Marc craig, President, Community Housing Network, Troy, MI O CCMHA serves a county with a population of more than 1 million in Detroit’s northern suburbs. Through its network of providers, OCCMHA offers an array of community-based services to thousands of citizens with developmental dis- citizenship and community integration for persons we serve. It is essential to providing effective community supports.” In 2001, CHN’s first responsibility was to coordinate the leasing and property abilities and mental illness. Through the 1970s and 1980s, more than 200 six- management of 225 group homes that housed people served by OCCMHA. person group homes were developed in scattered locations across the county, Nearly all the homes were owned by private investors and leased back under a principally to serve people with developmental disabilities who were leaving variety of leasing arrangements with the state of Michigan, OCCMHA, or service state institutions that were closing. People with mental illness residing in the providers. CHN took assignment of all but the state leases and assumed respon- state mental health facility in Pontiac were later offered housing in apartments sibility for making new leasing or other housing arrangements as the remaining and scattered single-family residences as that facility was closing. state leases expired. In 2001, OCCMHA recognized the need to achieve a number of policy objectives Although leasing and property management accounted for the majority of in housing for consumers: dollars in the contract between OCCMHA and CHN, other services provided by >> Separation of housing from supports CHN proved to be more vital to achieving the long-term policy objectives. CHN >> Control of housing by consumers launched an innovative Housing Resource Center to serve people with disabili- ties and their families and those who support them. Marc Craig, CHN president, >> A wider array of integrated housing choices in scattered locations notes “The HRC is at the heart of our service to the community. The tremendous >> Affordable housing that does not contribute to a concentration of poverty response has shown us that this resource is valued by persons with disabilities, >> Reduced dependence on the group home model service agencies, and other area residents.” >> Creation of new housing options and affordable housing resources The HRC operates a number of programs and services. Information and referrals >> Increased access to housing resources outside the mental health community regarding programs such as Housing Choice (formerly Section 8) vouchers can be obtained in person, by phone, or through the CHN website, which receives, >> Up-to-date housing information and referral for OCCMHA consumers and on average, more than 2,900 visits per month. The HRC manages a home-buyer providers assistance program for people with disabilities—the program provides home- >> Coordinated, centralized management of existing housing resources. buyer counseling, help with housing searches and, ultimately, access to a num- To achieve these objectives, OCCMHA provided start-up funding to the newly ber of down-payment assistance programs. This kind of program allowed Jack formed Community Housing Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under Dobrecki to own a home for a monthly payment that is less than he had been contract to serve the housing needs of people receiving services from OCC- paying to rent a small apartment. MHA. Jeff Brown, OCCMHA’s executive direc- HRC staff members are actively engaged in the community; for example, they tor, views housing as a critical service conduct outreach programs and maintain Housing Choice voucher alert lists area, saying, “Access to to inform people with disabilities about voucher availability. An independent affordable housing is living club provides social networking opportunities and timely information the foundation for full Jack Dobrecki, now 58, was raised in an institution for people with developmental disabilities in Lapeer, Michigan, from the time he was 5. Beginning at age 19, Jack lived in a series of foster care homes and other residential programs in Oakland County. Now he is a homeowner and receives supportive services through the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority. 12 / NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3
  • 14. COMMUNITY HEALTH FACILITIES FUND about housing and supportive services. Several HRC staff members have From leasing and property management received (or currently receive) services through OCCMHA. The Community Health revenue to strategic partnerships and grants, To attract additional resources, CHN is an active participant and has Facilities Fund (CHFF) is a Oakland County Community Mental Health taken various leadership roles in the local U.S. Department of Housing leading provider of financial Authority has used a range of options to give and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care planning group, the Oakland County Taskforce on Homelessness and Affordable Housing. Among its ac- solutions designed to meet persons with disabilities affordable housing tivities, this all-volunteer group is responsible for the annual application and a life in theunique real estate and the community. for HUD funding under the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance program. information technology In the past 8 years, CHN has become the area’s largest provider of per- manent supportive housing; it now attracts more than $2 million annually needs of community-based to provide housing to more than 200 formerly homeless people with dis- behavioral healthcare abilities and their families. organizations. CHN also serves as the lead agency for the county’s Homeless Manage- ment Information System program. This congressionally mandated pro- CHFF provides loans for: information gram tracks utilization of homeless shelters, people participating in per- technology needs, including hardware manent supportive housing, and data obtained from a communitywide and software in amounts of $150,000 homeless street count. “The HMIS data prove what we’ve suspected all or more and facilities financing amounts along, that people with disabilities are disproportionately represented of $250,000 or more. Our loans among the homeless population,” Craig says. “This information helps us can be structured to provide flexible to secure more resources.” terms including 100% project finance, extended amortization schedules, Other grant sources CHN has used to attract housing resources to benefit subordinate liens and gap funding. people with disabilities include the HUD Section 811 program, the Afford- able Housing Program from members of the Federal Home Loan Bank sys- CHFF is sponsored by the National tem, and funds from the HOME program administered by Oakland County Council for Community Behavioral government and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. These Healthcare and the U.S. Psychiatric grants have attracted more than $5 million to produce new units of both Rehabilitation Association. Funded affordable home ownership and rental housing. by the Robert Wood Johnson For the near future, CHN is ramping up to administer newly available funds Foundation and organized as a under the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program, which was 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity, CHFF’s created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Plans to cre- mission is to improve access to capital ate additional housing units through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit for community-based behavioral program are also underway. healthcare providers. “We are delighted with the results of our partnership with CHN,” Brown Since 1991, CHFF has completed over says. “It gives people with disabilities a seat at the table in housing plan- $130 million of financing for more than ning and has effectively leveraged our resources to attract millions of new 30 behavioral healthcare providers dollars to benefit them.” across the nation. Visit us at our website: Jeffrey Brown is a member of the board of directors for the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, an affiliate of the National www.chffloan.org Association of Counties. He was recently elected to the executive committee of the or for more information contact: Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards as treasurer. Brown has nearly 30 years experience as a hospital social worker, mental health clinician and manager, and Christopher Conley, Fund Manager community leader. Community Health Facilities Fund Marc Craig has been an affordable housing advocate for more than 25 years. He is found- 6 Landmark Square, 4th Floor ing president of Community Housing Network, a nonprofit organization that helps people Stamford, CT 06901 in need find long-term housing solutions. He is also the founder of Springhill Housing Corporation, an organization that focuses on affordable housing development and manage- (203) 359-5609 or info@chffloan.org ment. Craig serves on the board of the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan and has been a member of numerous affordable housing and mental health advocacy organizations. Throughout his career, he has attracted housing resources in excess of $15 million. NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3 / 13
  • 15. Best Practices Spotlight on Sam Tsemberis: Why Housing First Works sam tsemberis, Phd, Founder and Executive Director, Pathways to Housing in an interview with Meena dayak, Vice President, Marketing and Communications and nathan sprenger, Marketing and Communications Associate — National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare B ack when New York City Health and Hospitals psychologist Sam Tsemb- eris was treating homeless people for their mental health and substance abuse problems, he recognized that “business as usual” was not working. The National Council spoke to Sam Tsemberis about the possibilities and challenges of Housing First. The most vulnerable population cycled repeatedly through the streets, emergency rooms, drop-in centers, shelters, and jail cells. When he asked National Council: You were quoted as once saying “The answer to homelessness them,“What is the first thing you want?” They invariably answered, “A place is simple, it’s housing.” to live.” From this concept came the Housing First program that Sam estab- Sam: I actually regret that quote because it oversimplifies the problem. Housing lished with Pathways to Housing in 1992. only cures homelessness, not mental illness. Mental health and addictions issues need clinical support and intervention. My staff is not in the housing business; Unlike traditional programs for the homeless, Housing First offers clients we’re a clinical agency. Ninety percent of our staff are social workers, psychiatrists, immediate access to housing without requiring sobriety or psychiatric nurses, employment specialists, and so on, and they intervene before and after treatment first. And it does so with a client-directed focus. The housing the person has received housing. Ending homelessness is a relatively short-term is permanent and independent—regular apartments scattered throughout and easy-to-accomplish goal. The hard part is dealing with the mental illness and residential buildings in various neighborhoods. Rather than exclude home- addiction. less people in isolated enclaves, Housing First seeks to bring them back into the greater community. Tsemberis believes not only that housing is a basic National Council: Is giving persons with mental illness and addictions a home the right but also that people with psychiatric disabilities have the inherent right thing to do? ability to improve their lives. Sam: If you don’t give them a home, homeless persons with mental illness are going to ricochet through different acute care services. Your keynote speaker at Results demonstrate the success and cost-effectiveness of Housing First: the 2010 conference, Malcolm Gladwell, paints a picture of Million Dollar Murray. >> The number of chronically homeless people in the United States dropped Murray was homeless in downtown Reno, Nev., for 10 years and cost the city over a by almost 30 percent between 2005 and 2007. Administration officials million dollars in services (ERs, homeless shelters, drop in centers, jails)—all acute, attribute much of that one-third drop to the Housing First Strategy. expensive interventions not terribly helpful in the long run though intended to serve >> More than 200 cities in the United States and Canada have adopted as programs of last resort for homeless people. Finally, Murray is still homeless 10-year plans to end chronic homelessness; 67 percent of these plans and dies of neglect. It’s a tragic story and a poignant example of a system that is include a Housing First program. failing people. >> The annual public cost of an average chronically homeless person living If you look at why we are failing Murray and many others like him, it’s because our on the streets and in shelters is $40,000; the annual public cost of values get in the way. Holding on to old ideas, such as the person has to be clean the average chronically homeless person living in a supportive housing and sober and on medication before the person can be housed, keeps us from program like Pathways to Housing is $16,000. long-term solutions. >> Pathways to Housing clients have an 85 percent 5-year retention rate National Council: Does housing really change people? and drastic drops in emergency room visits, contacts with law enforce- Sam: Housing First provides a safe, affordable, and effective intervention—an ment, and psychiatric hospitalizations. apartment of one’s own—to a group of people who previously wouldn’t have had access to this resource. Once housed, these persons can begin to address other issues. Overnight, they go from thinking about how to survive on the streets to think- ing about “Where did I leave my keys; how am I going to pay the rent this month; when do I go grocery shopping?” It’s not just a transformation of address but a transformation of lifestyle. After they get into a house, they can then think about leaving their phone number with a relative and what they are going to do with their day rather then where they are going to eat. They can start to address the issues of why they are anxious all the time, or not sleeping, or the fact that their addictions are making it difficult to pay the rent. Then they pull their lives together in a more meaningful way. 14 / NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3
  • 16. National Council: Where does funding come from for We’ll take them to the hospital if they are found to be housing programs start by placing people into a more the housing you provide? a danger to themselves. restrictive setting first and then graduating people to Sam: We apply for government contracts that provide National Council: Do you ever encounter problems an independent apartment, so many never make it. I funding for both the rent and the service component. with people saying, “I don’t want a person with men- think these programs have the whole thing backward. We identify a neighborhood and then an apartment tal illness as my neighbor?” People don’t need that structure to start out with, and that is suitable for homeless persons, and we help Sam: NIMBY [Not in My Backyard] only comes up when they don’t need to be symptom free to live indepen- them rent the apartment. Or we rent it and sublet it you have a whole apartment building or other congre- dently. to them, depending on what the persons wants, or the gate setting for people with mental illness. We rent National Council: What’s your advice for providers program allows, or the landlord allows. People pay 30 scattered apartments from community landlords. The wanting to adopt Housing First? percent of their income (disability income, in most issue of mental illness doesn’t come up in community Sam: Start small and take on one component at a cases), and the rest of the rent is paid through vari- discussions, as long as they are good tenants.. time. Make sure your off-site and support services are ous government programs such as [U.S. Department strong. Pick “less visible” clients to start with, until of Housing and Urban Development], Section 8, and National Council: What supports do you offer to inte- grate persons with mental illness that you house into you can demonstrate results. And don’t alienate sup- Office of Mental Health supportive housing contracts. porters of transitional housing—show them that they the community? National Council: Government doesn’t always allow Sam: The social inclusion piece is a huge part of the won’t be put out of business with Housing First but for funding to go to people with criminal records, and recovery process. The scattered-site model requires that they’ll be a part of the change. private landlords are often hesitant to rent to those persons with mental illness to live among people in National Council: Tell us how Housing First models with criminal records. How do you deal with this? the community [who] have no disability. It changes the are being replicated elsewhere and what type of sup- Sam: I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and even when context of their lives right away. They live in a regular port you offer them. someone has committed a felony, we’ve been able to apartment the way everyone else does. They need to Sam: Across the United States, there has been a big house them. It’s more of an imagined problem than a go out to make contact with others, to greet neighbors, wave of expansion. It’s all about funding. When the real one. If you really want to house people, criminal check the mail, take out laundry...They are no longer Inter Agency Council coordinated a chronic homeless issues are not going to be a big deal. standing in soup lines and only talking to social work- initiative grant of $35 million about 5 years ago, sud- Many of those who come to us with criminal records ers. But there are a lot of challenges with community denly organizations were competing for the money. It don’t have records for violent crimes that would pre- integration. People with mental illness tend to be shy was a real shift in funding for these programs, even clude them from living in an apartment. They have in public settings [and] are more isolated, and it is though only 10 or 11 cities received any of the $35 poverty-level crimes, such as drug use, turnstile jump- a challenge to overcome this emotional vulnerability. million in funding. But many others that applied end- ing—misdemeanors that turn into worst case scenar- This is where the support services kick in—community ed up getting local funding. The Canadian government ios because of repeated infractions. If the landlord integration doesn’t happen by itself. And we have all put together a $110 million initiative to end chronic is uncomfortable renting to someone with a criminal types of programs to nurture people’s varied interests homelessness in a country of only 30 million people. record, then the agency will rent the apartment and and activities. They chose Housing First as a model program for end- sublet it to the tenant. National Council: What happens when there is a re- ing chronic homelessness. We’re helping them set up The issue of criminal backgrounds only comes up with lapse or people cannot stay in their homes? programs in different Canadian cities. Amsterdam and poor people. Funny how it’s a nonissue when it comes Sam: If someone messes up or has a problem at their Lisbon have also started Housing First programs. to white-collar crimes. No one talks about the Wall apartment, we are able to move them and start all National Council: What’s your vision for Housing First? Street executive convicted of fraud having a hard time over in a new apartment, using the learning experi- Sam: My hope is that we have learned how to end buying a co-op or condo! ence. That helps them get it together the second time. homelessness and support people in a dignified way. National Council: Do you have instances of people You don’t have to get it right the first time. We’re here I hope people with psychiatric disabilities will be in- accepting housing but refusing treatment? to help them learn. The amazing thing about the pro- tegrated into our society and that they will be able to Sam: People do have a choice about whether or not to gram is that we’re able to house 85 percent of those live, work, and love in the communities of their choice, accept treatment, but it’s not a carte blanche choice. [who] are believed by others to be unhousable. It says just like the rest of us. My hope is we’ll have the politi- There are limits—they must pay 30 percent of the rent a lot about what people with co-occurring disorders cal will to take this problem on. This isn’t curing can- and must respect the terms and conditions of living are able to do when given a chance to succeed. cer; in this case, we know what the cure is — housing in the apartment. Folks we house are also required The other 15 percent [who] don’t make it after three and support services, and a government that will fund to accept weekly program visits from our staff. These or four times are typically those who can’t quite get the programs. visits are the most clinically artful piece of the Hous- their addictions under control. We don’t discharge And if we open a museum of homelessness 5 to 10 ing First program. The visits allow us to monitor the them; we instead move them to a place where there years from now, I hope we can show shelters and condition of the clients, introduce new ideas, open is security or someone monitoring the front door, drop-in centers as things of the past! new doors, and gently challenge them to do better. [because] they need a more restrictive setting. Most NATIONAL COUNCIL MAGAZINE • 2009, ISSUE 3 / 15

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